When you’re building your website, you may come across the term “infinite scroll” and wonder what it is. Once you know the pros and cons of the infinite scroll, you’ll be better positioned to enhance your website and the user experience.
What is it?
Infinite scrolling is a method of loading website content in a continuous, scrolling manner. Instead of pagination — where the web page presents the user with a series of links to click through to reach the next page — infinite scroll automatically loads the new content below the existing content, on the same page.
Why is it useful?
Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the advent of super fast, always-on internet, have made infinite scrolling popular. Your social media timeline loads new content automatically as you scroll, presenting you with an endless stream of updates and new info.
To the user, it appears as if they are just scrolling on one long page, meaning they need to do less to see new items, and there is more of a chance they will scroll to something of interest.
From a technical point of view, it also means a better user experience. The browser only needs to load the next set of content, not an entirely new page, so loading times and, therefore, wait times are decreased.
Infinite scroll is especially effective on mobile devices, where a user is already used to the concept of swiping up or down to view content.
Netflix is a great example of a company site successfully using this feature not only horizontally, but also vertically. It only ever loads the next set of titles in any one direction, making for a smooth, fluid browsing experience.
When should you use it?
You might be excited to enable infinite scroll on your website, but it’s wise to remember that it’s not always the right answer. You should consider your website content and what your visitors will need to do on your site for a successful experience before implementing this tool.
Infinite scrolling is not suited for websites that strive to present goal-oriented tasks, such as booking or eCommerce websites. In those cases, you want your visitors to find what they’re looking for and make a decision — not endlessly browse your content.
Sites that contain a wide variety of content, meant to keep visitors engaged and/or entertained, would benefit from using this feature. The Netflix site and news sites like CNN effectively make use of infinite scrolling for this purpose.
How do you enable it on WordPress.com?
Most WordPress.com themes support infinite scroll, and you can specifically search for themes that support the feature, too. You can also disable the feature quickly from the Settings > Writing page by disabling the feature toggle.
Once you understand the power of this tool, and the right time and place to use it, it can be really effective in creating a great user experience for your fans.
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